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Someday My Printz Will Come
Inside Someday My Printz Will Come

About Joy Piedmont

Joy Piedmont is a librarian and technology integrator at LREI, Little Red School House & Elisabeth Irwin High School. Prior to becoming a librarian, Joy reviewed and reported for Entertainment Weekly’s PopWatch. Currently, she reviews for SLJ and serves as treasurer for the Hudson Valley Library Association. When she’s not reading YA, she’s compulsively consuming culture of all kinds, seeking out good gluten-free food, and taking naps with her cats, Annie and Oliver. Find her on Twitter @InquiringJoy, email her at joy dot piedmont at gmail dot com, or follow her on Tumblr. Her opinions do not reflect the attitudes or opinions of SLJ, LREI, HVLA or any other institutions with which she is affiliated.

It’s such an honor

Heading into the honor vote, we knew a few things: Eleanor & Park and Winger were in strong positions to do well based on where they finished behind Boxers & Saints. Although E&P ended up 26 points behind Boxers & Saints (and Winger was 36 points behind), there was only a 24 point margin between E&P, Winger, The Summer Prince and Far Far Away. Additionally, E&P, Winger and The Summer Prince all did well with first place votes (5, 6, and 6 respectively; interestingly, Far Far Away only received 2) in the vote for gold, indicating that they would all be good bets for Pyrite honors.

Another eight titles also had legitimate chances at grabbing an honor spot from any of the titles above based on the number of first and second place votes they received in the vote for gold: All the Truth That’s in Me, Black Helicopters, Fangirl, The Midnight Dress, Midwinterblood, Mortal Fire, Rose Under Fire, and September Girls. These were titles that ended up with fewer weighted points overall, but when they did receive support it was usually in a first or second place slot.

As happened last year, we had roughly half the number of voters for honors as we did for gold. (Again, probably due to all the fun everyone’s having at ALA). However—and this is really exciting—nearly everyone who voted in the honor round had also voted for gold! Because we had such a small pool of voters, the data can’t necessarily scale up well, but it’s interesting nonetheless.

Read on to see if there were any surprises, what it all means, and to look at pretty charts!
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Fangirl — Finally!

16068905 Fangirl    Finally!Why isn’t Fangirl getting more Printz buzz? It’s earned five stars and has appeared on a couple best of 2013 lists.

Is the subject too niche? Are readers putting all their support behind Eleanor & Park?

Whitney Winn of Youth Services Corner did a useful roundup of Mock Printz lists. While E&P appeared on all nineteen of the lists included in her data, Fangirl was on just five.

Am I taking crazy pills?

I lurve E&P. You know I do. But Fangirl is the stronger book. It’s richer thematically, has better characterizations, a more complex story, and a fascinating structure. If only one of Rowell’s novels is recognized by the Real Committee this year, it should be Fangirl.
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Sex & Violence

17339214 Sex & ViolenceSex & Violence, Carrie Mesrobian
Carolrhoda LAB, October 2013
Reviewed from ARC

Time for a true confession: of the five 2014 Morris Award nominated titles, I’ve read only one. All of the books had been on my to-read list before becoming Morris finalists, but we all know what happens with to-read lists and then you’ve only read one of the books. Fortunately for me, that book was Carrie Mesrobian’s Sex & ViolenceIt’s challenging and smart work from a promising writer—truly deserving of the Morris nod (and I really regret not being able to judge it against the rest of the field).

Mesrobian has a clear thesis in Sex & Violence; it’s mostly there in the title, but she’s also interested in how an already emotionally detached young person copes with PTSD. The latter is really the meat of the book and what makes it work: after a violent attack in his boarding school’s shower leaves him without a spleen, Evan begins to question his sexual history and actions which led to the assault. Mesrobian puts the reader directly in his head by writing in first person, but Evan is never entirely honest with himself, making him an impenetrable narrator. It’s only in his letters to Collette where he reveals anything true about himself, because it’s as he writes these letters that he begins to understand who he is. Evan’s voice is consistent and pitch perfect; this kind of assured writing is worth the price of admission.
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Roundup: In a worst case scenario

We’re about two weeks away from the YMA’s so it’s the perfect time to highlight some books that are flying under the awards radar. Both of the titles I’m looking at today have excellent character writing and deal with themes of violence and what people do in extreme circumstances. Neither book quite has what it takes for the Printz, but I was surprised that they didn’t show up on more best of the year lists. Thankfully, both are BFYA nominees so while I keep my fingers crossed, read on for why I think they deserve some kind of recognition.

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Picture Me Gone

9780399257650H Picture Me GonePicture Me Gone, Meg Rosoff
Putnam Juvenile, October 2013
Reviewed from ARC

Picture Me Gone. It’s earned five stars. It’s on three 2013 best lists*, and it was a National Book Award finalist.

What am I missing?

I’ve read it twice now and my reaction is still just, “meh.” There are no glaringly obvious flaws, but this is the kind of book that just floats out of one’s consciousness the moment you finish the last sentence. Unlike There is No Dog, which I actively loathed (and it didn’t get much love here on the blog), I feel ambivalent toward this book. Part of that feeling is due to that ephemeral quality I mentioned before, but I think it’s also because this is ultimately good but forgettable work.

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Far Far Away: Once upon a time…

16030663 Far Far Away: Once upon a time... Far Far Away, Tom McNeal
Knopf Books for Young Readers, July 2013
Reviewed from Final Copy

It is perhaps the most polarizing title of the year. Love, hate, and debate about audience have all bubbled up around Tom McNeal’s Far Far Away. A National Book Award finalist, the novel also has five starred reviews and has made four of the year’s best lists; clearly, there is a lot of love for this book. But whenever I discuss Far Far Away with someone who didn’t like it, they don’t just dislike the book, it’s more like disdain.

I’m not one of those people but I’m not quite on the side of adoration either. McNeal’s most prominent theme is story—its power and our lives as stories are two variations that we see in the novel. McNeal’s use of storytelling (specifically, fairy tales) as a major theme is done well enough, but when analyzed with other elements of the novel such as voice, style, and characters, Far Far Away is a book made up of discrete notes that, when played together, make a dissonant sound.
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Graphic Novel Roundup: A Study in Contrasts

It’s been a strong year for graphic novels. Boxers & Saints is increasingly looking like a frontrunner, but there’s also RelishMarch, Book One (don’t worry, we’re definitely covering this one as soon as we get a copy), and now the two titles that are up for discussion this morning: Delilah Dirk & The Turkish Lieutenant and The War within These Walls. Complete opposites in genre, style, and tone, but each have outstanding qualities that are certainly worth a closer look. Are these qualities enough to nab a Printz?

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Eleanor & Park: Love Will Tear Us Apart

9781250012579 Eleanor & Park: Love Will Tear Us ApartEleanor & Park, Rainbow Rowell
St. Martin’s Press, February 2013
Reviewed from Final Copy

[Hey, listen. We do spoilers here, okay? Major spoilers, all the time. You've been warned.]

Just as I opened my laptop to write this review, it dawned on me that I first read Eleanor & Park over a year ago. Holding back tears that eventually spill into sobs is not a thing you forget easily. Especially when the thing that reduces you to a puddle of goo is, “Just three words long.”

I fell hard for this book. It felt like Rainbow Rowell had used my consciousness to write a novel I didn’t even know I had inside me; that’s how personal the experience was for me.

Before we delve into Rowell’s novel, let’s get back to the future for a moment. Since I read it as a digital galley last year, E & P has blown up. It’s a New York Times bestseller, has five starred reviews, and John Green has given the book a glowing recommendation in the New York Times Book Review. And if that isn’t impressive enough for you, Rowell’s other YA novel published this year, Fangirl, is also a critical success with five stars of its own. Most notable is that her novels appear together on SLJ‘s and the New York Times best lists. (Eleanor & Park is also on the Horn Book’s Fanfare, Publishers Weekly’s Best Books, and Kirkus’ Best Teen Books.)

Where there is high praise though, backlash will follow. With E & P in particular it’s been difficult to avoid all critical commentary, but my completely non-empirical understanding is that race, historical context and accuracy have been among the issues raised. And then there are those who say that it’s just not that good.

For the record, I still love this book. That won’t go away, at least not any time soon. That doesn’t mean though that I can’t think critically about the work; time and revisiting the text—a re-read of the final copy and a listen of the audiobook—have certainly sharpened my reading and there is a lot to discuss.
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Romance Roundup, Summer Style!

The weather is getting colder, Starbucks broke out the red holiday cups , and Thanksgiving is just around the corner. But let’s go back to that happier—and warmer—time in late August when two novels about love were published: The Beginning of Everything and The Infinite Moment of Us. These two books aren’t on our long list, but in a year when contemporary realistic romance is ubiquitous, each of these novels has noteworthy qualities. Let’s snuggle up and discuss, shall we?

(By the way, you know we do spoilers here, right? Don’t say I didn’t warn you when I spill some major secrets.)

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The 5th Wave

The 5th Wave The 5th Wave The 5th Wave, Rick Yancey
Putnam Juvenile, May 2013
Reviewed from ARC

Apocalyptic scenario, isolated teen in the woods, romance against-the-odds… we’ve been down this desolate road before. Rick Yancey’s tough-girl protagonist is Cassie (short for Cassiopeia) who is determined to find her younger brother. The 5th Wave goes beyond the familiar premise as a richer and more satisfying doomsday novel. The action is coherent and genuinely thrilling and tense, and the multiple narrating voices with converging plot lines create an interesting structure.

Yancey previously received the Printz Honor for The MonstrumologistThis novel similarly uses horror and is the first in a projected series. Will The 5th Wave make Yancey a twice honored author?

To give you a metaphor in my native tongue: if this were a summer popcorn movie—which it one day may be—it would get two thumbs up, but once Oscar season rolled around, a Best Picture nomination for The 5th Wave would be a long shot.

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